Children’s musical producer relishes new role

By on October 23, 2009

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—For Stephanie Kleba of Elburn, balancing her roles as a working mother of two and a children’s musical producer has been challenging but well worth it, she said.

“It’s been a juggling act,” Kleba said.

In early September, Kleba became the producer of the Children’s Theatre of Elgin’s production of “The Music Man Jr.”

For the past month and a half, she has been at rehearsals in Elgin four nights a week, after working during the day as a music therapist at Delnor-Community Hospital.

As the musical’s producer, Kleba said she is basically in charge of the show, which features 76 child actors including her daughter, Madison, 11. Kleba not only has taken care of its business side—hiring a director and a choreographer, and monitoring the budget—she also has been responsible for keeping order during practices and will continue being the behind-the-scenes monitor at performances this weekend.

With the show’s large cast of children, that is no easy task, but Kleba is just the person for the job, said production director Jen Prise.

Prise said even though Kleba sometimes has to be the “bad guy” when the young actors become too rowdy backstage, they like and respect her.

“I have never heard her raise her voice, but when she speaks, the kids stop whatever they’re doing and listen,” Prise said.

Kleba said she could not have taken on the producer role without the support she has received from her husband and her parents, who traveled from Ohio to stay with the family part of the time.

A member of the theater’s board of directors, Kleba said producing a show periodically is part of that position. Although the additional responsibility has made her life more hectic, it has been personally rewarding, she said.

“The kids make it worth it; when I see how they develop, and how the experience boosts their self esteem,” Kleba said. “They are amazing—what they conquer and accomplish.”

‘The Music Man Jr.’ Oct. 22-24
The Children’s Theatre of Elgin production of “The Music Man, Jr.” will feature dozens of young actors, including two 11-year-olds from Elburn, Tracy Suppes and Madison Kleba.

The musical will be performed Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way, downtown Elgin.

This school adaptation of the 1959 hit musical, “The Music Man,” includes most of the original songs, such as “76 Trombones,” “Goodnight My Someone,” “Good Night, Ladies,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Til There Was You.”

Performances will take place at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25.

“The Music Man, Jr.” is directed by Jen Prise of Elgin and produced by Stephanie Kleba of Elburn.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact the Hemmens Box Office at 847-931-5900. For more information, go to www.cteelgin.com.

Photo: Tracy Suppes and Madison Kleba, both 11, of Elburn, are among the 76 cast members in the Children’s Theatre of Elgin’s ‘The Music Man, Jr.,’ produced by Stephanie Kleba (center), also of Elburn. Courtesy Photo